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Introducing the new assessor: 'I immediately knew: this is what I want'

With the new academic year, the Honours Academy welcomes a new assessor: Maarten Kolpa. What does an assessor do? And what can he do for honours students? Maarten talks about it in an interview. "I find it important that the student perspective comes first."

For starters, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Maarten Kolpa (22). Last summer, I completed my history bachelor's degree with a thesis on the conflict between Dutch ministers Lubbers and Van den Broek in the 1990s. I also attended the Honours College of the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs. In my spare time, I lead scouting group John McCormick in Zoetermeer, follow soccer club Ajax closely, and read a lot about history and politics.

Maarten during the kick-off of PRE-College Den Haag.

Why did you want to become assessor?

I had already been introduced to the Honours Academy through the Honours College. When I saw the vacancy for assessor, I immediately knew: this is what I want. It is quite an honour to discuss the future of honours education and to be allowed to represent the university's most ambitious students.

What does an assessor actually do?

As an assessor, I am a member of the board of the Honours Academy and represent the interests of honours students. The board decides what course the Academy will take. I monitor what that means for students and offer a student perspective within the administrative process. I also regularly meet with students in various committees, help maintain the social media and send a monthly e-mail to all honours students with information about fun and educational activities.

What is an important motivator in your work?

The Honours Academy brings together many aspects of what I find important myself. For example, it is the educational testing ground of Leiden University. I trained as a history lecturer for two years and thus developed a passion for education. In my job as assessor, I can brainstorm on educational innovation. 

I also think the focus on inclusiveness within the Honours Academy is very important. We want honours students to be not the most privileged, but the most talented students at the university. The focus on a diverse influx of students, mainly first-generation, is a good example of this goal.

Finally, I also think it is really cool that our education often functions as a means to explore the problems of our time and contribute to a solution. Think of the Master Honours Class Circular Economy or the Bachelor Honours Class on the future of education. This way, today’s honours students are tomorrow’s problem solvers.

What do you want to achieve during your time as assessor?

Firstly, I want to contribute to a strong start of the new programmes the Honours Academy is launching this year: a totally renewed Leiden Leadership Programme (LLP) and, in cooperation with the LDE alliance, the Bachelor Honours Programme Sustainability. We will reflect on this regularly throughout the year, and I find it important that the student perspective comes first in this.

In addition, I would like to work on the honours community. Before the pandemic, there was more interaction between the different honours students, from the vwo students of Pre-University to the Honours College bachelor’s students and the LLP master’s students. I want to organise activities for all our students again, so they can meet each other.

Finally, what message would you like to give to all honours students?

As an assessor, I want to be in touch with students. You can always reach out to me if you have a good idea for the future of education, want to start a project together with fellow students, or if you have had a less pleasant experience with honours education. Email me, and we will have a cup of coffee together!

Text: Michiel Knoester
Photos: Maxime Koning (Den Haag) and Buro JP (Leiden)

Maarten introduces himself to students of Pre-University College in Leiden.
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